Meal Planning: Organized Families Eat Healthier
Guest Speaker: Amy Roskelley
- Has a Bachelors degree in Health Education
- Worked for 10 years with the State of Utah counseling State Employees on how to incorporate healthy habits
- Currently the owner of Super Healthy Kids, an online resource that helps kids eat healthier. Site offers recipes, meal plans and ideas for families
1. Planning and organizing family meals ahead can help families eat healthier.
2. Write down weekly menu on easily to find menu planner so all members of the family can help.
3. Tips to help meal prepping be a quicker, easier process.
Plan Meals Ahead and Write Up Meal Plan
An organized family uses meal plans. Meal planning incorporates healthy homemade meals as well as fruits and veggies into your life. It also gets kids into the kitchen helping prepare those helathy meals and learning healthy eating habits.
Plan meals ahead, maybe starting the night before, adding steps to preparing meals to your daily task list. This eliminates last minute missing ingredients or lack of ideas.
Amy Roskelley prepares a meal plan which includes, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack and tapes it to the fridge. She uses a task manager app called Tick Tick which helps her lay out all the steps necessary for preparing those meals. She includes every step needed for meal preparation into her daily tasks so that it happens.
Amy Mitchell likes planning meals for the whole week ahead. She can see what acitivities are going on and plan meals accordingly. Then each day she breaks it down into little steps needed to have that meal ready.
Dave likes knowing what the meals are by looking at the meal plan so he can pick up and help when Mom is out running kids around.
Kids hold parents accountable when they see their favorites on the menu. They make sure it gets made.
When meals are planned ahead, then they are more likely to happen despite busy schedules. And planning ahead improves chances of a healthy, homemade meal.
When planning meals, Amy Roskelley gets ideas throughout the week from cookbooks, magazines, online blogs, Pinterest, wherever, and bookmarks the ideas she is most interested in. She takes into account what’s in season and what’s on sale. When she finally writes her menu plan, it only takes 10 minutes to compile it all together.
For some, though, sifting through cookbooks and the Internet seems too overwhelming.
Amy Roskelley likes how The Food Nanny plans meals around themes. Monday night is Mexican night, Tuesday night is pasta night. Wednesday night is crock pot night. If Thursday night is soup night, you can involve the family and ask them what soup they want to eat.
The Roskelley family schedule is usually Meatless Monday, fish dish on Thursday, Friday is pasta night, Tuesday chicken. You could also add Taco Tuesday. 🙂
Amy Roskelley prints up all ideas for her business, but then her family circles the ones they have time for or they want to eat. Kids can take part in the meal selection and cooking and circle what they want to make on their night to cook.
It’s important for organized families to not feel overwhelmed thinking they have to plan 7 solid meals every week. Plan on a night or two being leftover night, or sandwiches because that is how life is. Be flexible.
The Mitchells schedule Saturday night every week for leftover night. It’s a great chance to clean out the fridge once a week, and it also gives Amy one night off each week from cooking.
Amy Roskelley points out that when you have a plan, you are more likely to have fruits and vegetable side dishes prepared too.
Plan meals around what’s on sale, what’s in season, and what you already have in your pantry. That will also save you money.
Snacks and lunches can also be planned ahead. Have one list of go-to snacks that family members can look at for ideas.
Breakfasts can also rotate around themes as well like: egg, hot cereal, muffin, smoothie, pancake/waffle themes.
Process of Getting Meals Together and Tips on Making Prepping easier and Quicker
Knowing ahead what’s on the menu later, allows for batch cooking. If you’re having rice one day and again 2-3 days later, you can double the batch of rice. Same thing applies for cooking meat, if you know you’ll be serving chicken twice, cook up twice as much at one time.
Batch prep vegetables. Wash and chop up the day you bring them home from the store so they are ready to use. Some say that makes them go bad faster, but Amy Roskelley points out that more vegetables go bad when they aren’t prepped because some don’t want to make the effort to get them ready to eat. But if they’re always ready, then they’ll get eaten up. Always keep a bowl of salad ready, and it’s a great pitch hit for any meal.
Some days on the task list, you may take care of putting the whole lasagna together right after breakfast before your day gets too busy, so by late afternoon all you have to do is put it in the oven. But if it’s on your task list, the organized family has set aside time when it’s a convenient time to prepare the meal.
Get kids on board with a dinner assignment, so one is cutting celery, one is cooking meat… If several are helping, then dinner is ready in no time.
When kids are still learning, the meal plan can also have instructions on how to prepare that meal. As the kids get older and better experienced, the meal plan is fine with just the menu item listed.
If kids help prepare healthy meals when they are young, they are more likely to continue that tradition of healthy eating when they are older.
Freezer meals are another great way to batch cook. They save time, mess and money. You can exchange freezer meals with neighbors and friends. One idea was 6 meals exchanged with 3 friends in the group. Another idea, was a large co-op group making 10 meals with 10 friends. Figure out what is manageable for you. Just plan on spend all day once a month cooking and prepping several meals.
One advantage of sharing freezer meals is that you get to try different recipes that are popular in other families.
Label all your freezer meals. It helps if the item under the tin foil going into the freezer is labeled with the name of the food dish, because sometimes it’s hard to recognize what it is frozen. Also add the directions on how to cook it up again. Don’t forget to label the date it was prepped and frozen.
Biggest obstacle for many families is that they are too busy to provide healthy meals. It can be easy and fast, it just takes some preplanning.
You can find lots of recipes and meal plans at www.superhealthykids.com.